Enjolras, Cromwell, and Counter-Revolutionary Dictates of Common Sense

So I was reading along in The Nest of the Sparrowhawk, and in one scene a paragraph of narration caught my attention and reminded me of something else. In the scene, some Cavaliers have been cornered in the upper room of an illegal gambling house by Cromwell’s guards. They draw their swords initially, taking umbrage at being arrested like common criminals, preparing to put up a gallant defence. But they are forced to cede their resistance in the face of the superior weaponry of the officials, who have muskets trained on them. Then follows this quotation,

It may be somewhat unromantic but it is certainly prudent to listen at times to the dictates of common sense, and one of wisdom’s most cogent axioms is that it is undoubtedly useless to stand up before a volley of musketry at a range of less than twelve feet unless an heroic death is in contemplation.

The Nest of the Sparrowhawk by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

In an instant, the circumstances of Enjolras’ and Grantaire’s deaths in Les Miserables popped into my mind, and so last night I put the quotation together with the scene from the 2012 movie.

Subsequently, I remembered another connection, though spurious, between Enjolras with his students’ revolution and Cromwell’s Civil War. In the (admittedly edited and abridged) translation of Les Mis that I read, there is a quote I saved describing Enjolras that forces an interesting parallel:

Enjolras, we know, had something of the Spartan and of the Puritan. He would have died at Thermopylae with Leonidas, and would have burned Drogheda with Cromwell.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Although I have aligned Enjolras with the Cavaliers in the quote from The Nest of the Sparrowhawk, Hugo would have him compared to Cromwell, which is very interesting. They were both revolutionaries, rebelling against their monarchs, in two different countries, two centuries apart.

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